The parents of a young girl indecently assaulted by a family
acquaintance say it broke their hearts to learn of the abuse.
Andrew Lever, 46, was sentenced in Auckland District Court
today to 17 months in prison for three charges of indecent
assault on the girl, who was aged between 9 and 10 at the
time of the assaults.
Lever, who was employed at a school, knew the girl's parents
and the offending took place in a private home. It was not
related to the school where he worked.
The girl's father told the court his daughter's childhood had
been destroyed and her innocence taken.
The knowledge that she had endured the abuse over a period of
20 months "absolutely breaks our hearts," he said.
"We feel that we have failed in our role as parents, that we
didn't do our job, we didn't protect her from harm."
He said his daughter often woke up crying at night, was
emotional, clingy and needed lots of cuddles from her
"We are dreading the day that she reaches an age when she
realises exactly what he was doing," he said.
"At her age now, she knows what he did was wrong but it won't
be until she is older that she realises the extent of the
In sentencing, Judge Emma Aitken said the offending began in
April 2011 when the girl was nine, and continued on two
Lever had been drinking and using illicit drugs, and taking
anti-depressants at the time of the assaults.
He indecently assaulted the girl five times over the three
occasions, the latest on January 26 this year.
Judge Aitken said the two assaults on this date showed an
escalation in seriousness of offending.
She said it had caused significant harm to the girl and her
"Really for this young girl the effects of the offending
rather than decreasing over time may well increase once she
is old enough to understand exactly the nature of what has
Judge Aitken sentenced Lever to 17 months in prison, taking
into account his guilty plea, his genuine remorse, and that
he had already taken steps to enter treatment programmes for
alcohol abuse and his sexual offending.
Defence lawyer Michael Talbot had argued for continued
suppression of Lever's name, saying it would cause hardship
to his partner and children, and that there was only media
interest in the case because of his employment at a school,
which was unrelated to the offending.
Holly Brown, lawyer for the school, also argued in favour of
continued name suppression, saying it could cause stress to
children who recognised Lever's name or photograph, and that
it would harm the reputation of the school among those who
recognised him as being a former employee.
Judge Aitken said she was not persuaded that those factors
overruled the presumption of open justice, and allowed
Lever's name to be published.
However the names of his partner and children, his occupation
and the name of the school where he worked were permanently